Everything In Its Place

You can drive down winding country roads with your Garmin leading the way, telling you when to turn right and when to bear left. You can walk through the city, iPhone in hand, and figure out exactly how to get to the hot new sushi place.

But there's a difference between pinpointing a place through GPS and getting to the soul of a place, which is what parish maps do. These heavily illustrated, often whimsical pieces don't just focus on routes and topography. They're a visual representation of what is truly important to a community.

"It provides a way to engage communities about what they value most about their place and its historic, cultural and natural environments and then present this information in a very accessible, engaging, imaginative, and artistic way," says Hugh French, director of the Tides Institute and Museum of Art in Eastport.

In August, The Tides Institute will present "Parish Maps: England to America," a series of workshops and a panel discussion on both sides of the Passamaquoddy Bay. French received a Maine Arts Commission grant to bring Sue Clifford of the England-based Common Ground to this side of the pond. She will visit five communities — Lubec, Calais, Pembroke and Dennysville, Maine, and St. Andrews, New Brunswick — to teach the basics of parish mapmaking.

We're particularly excited about the panel discussion on public art and sense of place, which will bring together critics and artists of international renown. In addition to Clifford, the lineup includes writer and curator Lucy Lippard, walking artist Hamish Fulton, and Ron Shuebrook, past president of Ontario College of Art and Design. The talk is scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 13 at Shead High School in Eastport.

With all of these great minds coming together in a great place, the resulting maps and conversation are bound to be intriguing. In any case, they'll surely be more interesting and engaging than what you see on the screen of your GPS.

For more information and a more detailed schedule of events, click here.


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